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Stock Market Today: Cheers All Round as the Dow, S&P Make History

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Should the U.S. soccer team fail to score any goals, U.S. markets have more than made up for it over Tuesday's session. The Dow Jones Industrial Average moved within reach of a historic 17,000-level, while the S&P 500 blazed a new intraday record high, both energized by data from Detroit carmakers and signs of a Chinese economy clunking back into gear.

Earlier in the afternoon, the Dow spiked more than 1%, around 2 points short of 17,000, before settling 0.77% higher at 16,956.07. Driving the Dow's gains, IBM  (IBM) gained 2.8%, Visa  (V) 1.7% and Johnson & Johnson  (JNJ) 1.2%.

Likewise, the S&P 500 jumped to an intraday record high of 1,978.58 earlier but receded to 1,973.32, though still up 0.67%. The Nasdaq surged 1.14% to 4,458.65.

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"Back in the middle of May, fear really hit a climax and after the S&P broke out above 1,900 we've seen this unwind occur and as long as the market remains strong, we could generate more momentum buying," Schaeffer's Investment Research senior vice president Todd Salamone told TheStreet. "We're looking from a technical perspective that 1,980-2,000 level on the S&P is a potential target in the short term."

Detroit automakers reported June vehicle sales better than analysts expected, even with two fewer selling days than the month a year earlier.

General Motors  (GM) posted a surprising gain in U.S. unit sales given a series of high-profile recalls. The automaker reported unit sales rose 1% in June to 267,461 compared to expectations of a 6.3% decrease. A day earlier, GM said it had added 8.2 million vehicles to its series of recalls. Year to date, the automaker has recalled a total 29 million units in North America. Shares climbed 3.6% to $37.59.

Ford  (F) saw unit sales drop 5.8%, compared to estimates of a 6.6% decline, while Volkswagen units tumbled 22%, compared to an estimated 4.3% decrease. Meanwhile, Chrysler and Nissan posted a 9% and 5% increase in units sold, respectively.

The HSBC PMI index helped move markets along, reporting expansion in China manufacturing and factory orders for the first time in six months with a reading of 50.7, up from 49.4 in May. China PMI also increased, up to 51 from 50.8 a month earlier, and marking a high-point for the year so far.

That data helped to ease fears of a China slowdown and overshadowed weaker domestic construction spending. Over May, spending in the sector edged only 0.1% higher to $956.1 billion, less than analysts' forecasts of 0.5%. By sector, private construction, the largest chunk of the measure, slipped 0.3% while public construction topped 1%.

The ISM index, a measure of factory activity, held firm at 55.3, only slightly lower than 55.4 in May. Markit's PMI index of 57.3 was up from 56.4 in May and beat estimates of 57. The reading marked its highest point since May 2010.

Netflix  (NFLX) shares peaked 7.4% to $473.10 after bagging an upgrade from Goldman Sachs. The firm revised Netflix to a "buy" rating with a $590 price target, noting scale of content acquisition costs as international growth picks up.

MannKind  (MNKD) slid 5.8% to $10.32, a day after rallying on the Food and Drug Administration's approval for its Afrezza treatment. The biotech was downgraded to "hold" from "buy" at MLV & Co with analysts waiting to see whether the drug proves profitable.

Twitter  (TWTR) announced it has purchased Tap Commerce, a New York-based mobile advertising technology firm. Separately, the social network is testing a "buy now" feature to some promoted tweets, a move which would introduce e-commerce to the site. Shares popped 2.6% to $42.05.

--Written by Keris Alison Lahiff in New York.

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